Piero De Santis
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Two years ago, the company "Amraam Line" produced a
series of conversion and detail sets for Monogram AV-8B kit, and one of
those was a welcomed option for who want to realize a RAF Harrier GR.7
When I started this project, it was my intention to build a couple of
RAF Harrier GR.7s involved in "Allied Force" operation over Kosovo in
1999. Specifically. I wanted to build two GR.7s - one as a 65% LERX
fitted aircraft and one as a 100% LERX fitted aircraft too.
However, the wait for a new-decent-decal sheet in 1/48 for RAF Harrier
GR.7s takes too long time for those models… so I chose to finish both
using what "is available" on the decal market.
So, what's a Harrier GR.7?
Well… "basically" is the British version of the
American AV-8B "Night Attack" variant… as is usually reported on
aviation books, magazines and websites.
I prefer to say that "MAGIC", as GR.7 is nicknamed in the RAF, is the
"RAF second generation Harrier".
From an airframe point of view, the most notable difference is the new
profile nose, but as most of the avionics, electronics and weapons
installed are different from package installed in the AV-8Bs, there are
also other minor but important and visible differences.]
Nose homing FLIR, ARBS
and ZEUS systems
Tail cone homing
anti-missile active warning system
Chaff & flares dispenser
under the fuselage
receivers/transmitters on the wingtips and on the rear ventral spine.
Empty-cannons pods under
Dedicated extra wing
pylons for self-defence missiles
Martin Baker Mk.12
"Small" or "Big" LERX
Dedicated ventral pylon
option for TIALD fitting.
The GR.7s aircraft are either newly produced or
converted GR.5 (GR.5A are modified GR.5 in the airframe ready to receive
the GR.7 "package" when available).
The GR.7 version is currently used only by RAF.
In RAF service the GR.7s is proved in "Operation
Warden" combat patrols over the North of Iraq, in "Deliberate Force"
over Bosnia and "Allied Force" over Kosovo for attack missions.
As I said for my already featured AV-8B "Plus", in 1/48 scale there is
ONLY one kit at the moment: Monogram/Revell's AV-8B.
This year could became a "golden year" for Harrier fans, because
Hasegawa has announced a new-tool AV-8B "Plus" in 1/48th, and Trumpter
announced a 1/32 AV-8B. Maybe, has is usual for this subject, more
variants could arrive later.
Back to the Monogram/Revell "basic" AV-8B, is overall good for shape and
size, nice detailed for cockpit and undercarriages… but, as tradition,
has raised panel lines sometimes wrong in shape and/or position.
For the GR.7 version there is also another "basic" resin conversion set
produced by "Maintrack" but include only a new nose and a pair of extra
wing pylons… a "little bit" compared to the contents of "Amraam Line"
conversion set: GR.7 and GR.5 noses, extra wing pylons, Aden cannon
pods, MK.12 seat, 2MFD cockpit panel, extended tail cone, ventral
chaff&flare, enlarged retractable dam, RWR/ECM ventral spine bulbs,
TIALD pylon, extended IFRP, 100% LERX, extra air scoops, front
undercarriage doors and a pair of outriggers wheels.
To complete the "correction" of the Monogram's AV-8B kit, "Amraam Line"
produce also a pair of "correct-size" fuel tanks.
British weapons as LGB CPU-123/B, BOL launcher and TIALD pod complete
the range of sets offers from "Amraam Line" to fulfil the RAF Harrier
GR.7, Jaguar GR.1/3 and Tornado GR.1/4 models .
Another good set, this time for detailing, came from "Black Box"… giving
a complete cockpit to replace the one of the kit.
AV-8B's etched details were produced by "Eduard"… but are unfortunately,
is out-of-production now.
As about the building phase, I rescribed the all the kit parts before
starting any assembling.
The construction phases are similar what is already
described in my earlier article for the "Plus".
Other modification related this variant that are
required on the kit are:
I followed the instruction guide included in the
set, that is clear.
I replace the cockpit of the kit with the one from "Black Box", apart
for the instrument panel that came from the "Amraam Line" set because
much more correct in size.
Some "precision" cut are required to the front undercarriage bay to fit
the cockpit tub.
The whole cockpit is coloured in medium sea grey 36270 (Humbrol 165),
with black instrument dials/screen and white/light grey switches. The
ejection seat is black with dark green cushion and brownish headrest
straps. Straps are grey and emergency handles are yellow-black stripped.
Drybrush here is a must.
The main problems building this kit are:
fitting the wing to the
fitting the speed
fitting the main engine
A lot of dry-fit test and epoxy putty are required
to obtain a good result.
I used the extended in-flight-refuelling-probe (IFRP) form the "Amraam
I made the blow-in doors of the main air intakes using plasticard sheet.
The inside of the main air intakes is white.
For all the Harriers, when the canopy is open (as on my model) the
inboard ladder is "down": I scratch build it and placed under the right
main air intake.
As I said before, one model (tow-tone-green) is fitted with the 100%
LERX resin part replacing the 65% LERX version provided in the kit.
When the main kit parts are assembled, I start the paint duty:
Harrier GR.7 "Operation
Warden": overall ARTF Grey, similar to Medium Sea Grey 36270 (Humbrol
165). This colour is a "temporary acrylic paint" over the original
two-tone-green camouflage. Under the weather effect can change of shades
and chips of paint jump off form the removable panels and airflow
Harrier GR.7 "Lightining
tail": upper surface are in NATO Green, similar to Dark Green
34096/34079 (Humbrol 116) and under surface are in Lichen Green, similar
to Medium Green 34098 (Humbrol 159). Tail is black/red with a yellow
lightning in the middle.
Both the GR.7s received pre-shading and black ink
was used to pick up the panel lines and rivets.
Real "Operation Warden" GR.7s had wings and tail planes leading edge
"covered" with a yellowing tape: I reproduced it with a mix of Humbrol
168, green and satin varnish.
Real "two-tone-green" GR.7s had intakes lips, wings
and tail planes leading edge painted with a darker green colour: I
reproduced it with Humbrol 108.
Undercarriages legs wheel hubs are white (Humbrol
A cote of "Future" to prepare the model for decaling.
I choose the "ZD408/WK" aircraft of RAF 3° squadron, at that time based
at "Incirlik AFB", Turkey for "Operation Warden". This aircraft has
small black serial numbers on fuselage and white letter code on tail.
Pale pink & blue roundels and no squadron insignias. Few stencils are
repainted over the ARTF Grey.
I choose the "ZG859" aircraft of RAF 4° squadron with black/red tail and
yellow lightning, at that time based at RAF "Laarbruch", Germany. This
aircraft was also used during "Air Warriors" exercise in USA.
Serial numbers and stencils are mostly black. Standard red &blue
roundels and fin flash with squadron insignias.
All those markings and stencils came from "old" or "incorrect" decal
sheets… Superscale, Xtradecals, Skymodels, Fineline… sorry, but at the
moment I can't say "this is THE 1/48th decal sheet for RAF Harrier
Very soon should be available a sheet from "Model Alliance" in 1/48th &
1/72th for "RAF Harrier GR.7s from 1992 to 2002". This will be the
"right" option for whom want to built one.
"Future" acrylic serve as base for decals. "Microscale" Set/Sol were
used to apply decals. Again a cote of "Future" and then a matt cote "Humbrol"
I opted for a "clear" parked configuration on the 4° squadron GR.7 as
showed on the "Lotniczych" magazine.
"Operation Warden" GR.7 were typically loaded for armed-recce sortie
with a pair of fuel tanks (from "Amraam Line"), a pair of AIM-9M
missiles (from "Hasegawa" weapons set), a pair of CBU-87 cluster bombs
(from an "Italeri" F-16), a Phimat chaff pod (from "P.P. Aeroparts") and
an "old" Vinten recce pod (scratch build) as was used on the Harrier
GR.3s. A couple of scratch build "inflatable FOD guards" are placed
inside the intakes. "Remove Before Flight" tags came from "P.P.
P.S.: The picture above shows also my 1/48th RAF 3°
squadron "two-tone-green" GR.7… build 8 years ago… Have I improved my
skills or not?
I used "Aeroguide" N°26 together with "World Air
Power Journal" N°32 for references.
Books that can be recommended include:
"Harrier - the Vertical
"The Harrier Story",
and many, many aviation magazines issues from "Air
Force Monthly", "Aircraft Illustrated" and "Royal Air force Yearbook" .
A special thanks for support and references go to the "Harrier Special
Interest Group" commanded by Mr. Nick Greenall and to all the "VSTOLling"
fellows of the group.
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Model, Images and Text Copyright ©
2003 by Piero De Santis
Page Created 08 February, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004
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